Problem Solving Style, Creative Thinking, and Problem Solving Confidence

By Houtz, John C.; Selby, Edwin C. | Educational Research Quarterly, September 2009 | Go to article overview

Problem Solving Style, Creative Thinking, and Problem Solving Confidence


Houtz, John C., Selby, Edwin C., Educational Research Quarterly


Forty-two undergraduate and graduate students completed VIEW: An Assessment of Problem Solving Style, the non-verbal Torrance Test Thinking Creatively with Pictures, and the Problem Solving Inventory (PSI). VIEW assesses individuals' orientation to change, manner of processing and ways of deciding while the Torrance test measures several productivity measures, notably ideational fluency. The non-verbal form also yields one "process" score: resistance to closure. Finally, the Problem Solving Inventory measures individuals' confidence in and affective control of their problem solving process, plus an indication whether an "approach" or "avoidant" style is characteristic. Consistent with VIEW theory, there was no relationship between actual creative thinking production and problem solving style. However, VIEW scores of orientation to change (OC) and ways of deciding (WD) were correlated significantly with the Torrance measure of resistance to closure. On VIEW, Explorers (OC) and Person-oriented deciders (WD) were more resistant to closure.

For several years now, researchers have been able to study both the affective as well as the cognitive aspects of human problem solving (Sternberg, 1997; Sternberg & Grigorenko, 1997). The construct of creative problem solving style has been identified and distinguished from measures of creative thinking ability and achievement (Treffinger, Selby, Isaksen & Crumel, 2007). Style is defined as a relatively stable preference an individual expresses when approaching problems, considering information, and making decisions. Style is an individual difference variable of human behavior similar to other cognitive or information processing styles, of which there are many that have been defined, measured, and studied in the literature of educational psychology (Jonassen & Grabowski, 1993).

Style theory is based on the proposition that the way a problem solver prefers to approach or work on a problem can greatly affect his or her success. This has been referred to as the "level-style" distinction (Isaksen & Dorval, 1993). In simpler style researchers have been interested in the "how" an solves problems, instead of "how much" problem solving skill individual possesses. How individuals approach and work problems is important because there are many different types problems and problem contexts. Individuals with qualitatively sharply different preferences may be more or less able to adapt the conditions, limitations, and/or possibilities for inherent in different problem types and environments. problem solving work requires group activities, individuals differing styles may experience difficulties working together as If the style of a learner or worker is known, then instruction can planned that complements mat style rather than conflicts, facilitating performance rather than hindering it (Cronbach Snow, 1977).

The purpose of the present study was to add to construct validity of VIEW: An Assessment of Problem Solving (Selby, Tref finger, & Isaksen, 2002). VIEW is a relatively new into the creative problem solving style literature, but it distinguished by a substantial theoretical underpinning in style and personality research. VIEW assesses three aspects of or preferences that individuals may have in their perceptions and approach to problems, in generating ideas, and evaluating choosing among possibilities.

On VIEW, there is a person's Orientation to (OC). Individuals may feel more comfortable working within structure, perhaps bending rules to "make a better box", so speak. On the other hand, some individuals may respond to by creating entirely new rules, preferring instead to boxes". Another style difference is one's Manner of (MP). Individuals may prefer to search their own Internal resources while considering ideas, or individuals may seek out External inputs from other individuals. VIEW's third dimension is Ways Deciding (WD) among possible solutions. Some individuals are Task-oriented, and select alternatives that "get the job done" as efficiently as possible.

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